2016 release from Ulterium Records.
Matt Smith – Vocals. Van Allen Wood – Lead guitar. Jonathan Hinds – Guitar. Jared Oldham – Bass.
Artist location: Athens, Georgia, USA.
3.5 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Paper Tiger.
- Ghost Ship.
- The Wonder Of It All.
- Wishing Well.
- Around The World And Back.
- Stir The Embers.
- A Call To Arms.
- Currency In A Bankrupt World.
This is a record that would normally not even register on my radar to have any interest in. I am not much of a fan at all of progressive rock, part of the reason I had never really given Theocracy much of a chance. I am all about melody and hooks in music and to me most progressive music I have heard (which to be honest is a limited amount) lacks any great melody to it and rarely has any good hooks.
I do really like one song from them from a past record, ‘Hide In The Fairytale’ from 2011’s ‘As The World Bleeds’. Click here to see the music video. That is a great song with a great melody, but it is just about all that I have listened to from them.
So I will be honest, I am not very familiar with their music prior to this album and being such I can’t compare how this record holds up against their past two albums, but this was a special request from one of my faithful readers to review and I actually had already purchased the record due to liking the first two songs I heard from it, so here are my thoughts on it.
While I don’t know how it compares to their previous works what I do know is that vocalist and founder Matt Smith has an exceptional voice. If you saw the video I posted on my Facebook page some time back of Smith with his charity, Project Aegis, and the star-studded song ‘Angel In The Ashes’, then you know what I mean. Click here to see the music video. That song, which was released earlier this year, is really the main reason I showed interest with this record in the first place as it is a fantastic song with some truly outstanding vocalists and musicians.
Then when the first track released, ‘Wishing Well’ (Click here to see the audio video for this track), I listened to it and really liked it. Then the same with the next track they released early, ‘Ghost Ship’ (check out the link near the top of the page to see the music video for it), I really liked it as well and I started to get excited about this album.
One thing I had noticed from all of his songs that I had heard up to the point before receiving this album is that Smith, for the most part, seems to really deliver the most on the choruses. All three Theocracy songs I have mentioned so far all have very strong and melodic choruses to them with some great hooks.
So the rest of the record. Well it is hit and miss for me personally. The opening track, ‘Paper Tiger’, is a good rocker. Not as catchy as ‘Wishing Well’ or the title track but a good song nonetheless that has grown on me quite a bit.
The third song, ‘The Wonder Of It All’, is the first song that I don’t care much for. It is more on the progressive side of things and one that just did not resonate with me that much. There are some good moments in the melody throughout the song but as a whole just not one of my favorites.
‘Around The World And Back’ comes in at track 5 and is the first ballad of the record. I use the word ballad loosely because it is more of just a slower rock track. Either way, it is a good song with some great vocals from Smith.
‘Stir The Embers’ is a fast and heavy number that is an okay enough song but it is not one of my favorites of the record. It does feature an impressive high note from Smith at the end.
‘A Call To Arms’ is a rocker. It is decent until it gets to the chorus, which I just did not care for one bit.
Track 8, ‘Currency In A Bankrupt World’, is not a bad song. The chorus is decent but lacks any real hook to it.
‘Castaway’ is a hard and heavy rocker that is a pretty good song. Some great work by the band musically on this one.
Closing the record out is the almost 10 minute ‘Easter’. An interesting track. Almost feeling a bit like a rock opera number it moves from a ballad and continues to build to an all out rocker. Not a great track, and I am not a big fan of really long songs either, but it had enough melody to it to keep my interest throughout the full track and turned out to be a pretty good song.
So bottom line, for me personally this is just slightly more than a mediocre record. Now I am not slamming the band or the music, they are obviously very talented guys and they sound fantastic. The production is excellent, the musicians can most certainly play and the vocals are superb and from what I have read from others, this is an outstanding record for fans of this band and genre, but this genre is just not really my cup of tea.
There are some great moments on the album and some very good songs. There are some songs I felt like they could have been good with a little rewriting and adding in some big hooks but ended up just falling a bit flat. And then there are a few that just do not work for me one bit at all.
Fans of the genre and this band will certainly enjoy this one.
‘Around The World And Back’.